Music Reviews



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Artist: Gaap Kvlt
Title: Void
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The man/woman behind Gaap Kvlt curtains managed to keep his/her identity conceiled for the moment as no one knows anything about him/her except, I surmise, Polish label Monotype which released his/her first complete album. As I am adverse to the cult of personality by nature, I cannot but praise such a choice, even if it could be consistent with the mysterious halo of the sound and the whole evoked atmosphere you're going to explore: the quotation of the Golem on the opening highly hypnotical track "Birth of Golem", who became famous for the notorious novel by Meyrink, but above all a style which melts dark ambient, cinematic industrial-like poltergeists, field recordings which seems to come from obscure recesses of some haunted building, abstract electronics whose low frequencies which gradually entwine and smother the sonic sphere (particularly on tracks like "Inquieude", "Poix" or "Far") and sinister knocks could be described as a possible crossbreed between Flint Glass, Emptyset and Vidna Obmana even if some occasional lacquering of Arabian sonorities (mainly percussions on tracks like "Ritual" or "Peganum Harmala") could resemble some stuff from Muslimgauze. Some moments of the album certainly render a sense of vague and suffocating emptiness, but a title like "Void" clashes against the thickening coagulations of visionary sonic injections and the fascinating polarization between icy sounds and the scorching heat which emanates from this fascinating release. Mind the Gaap...I said...mind the Gaap!
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Artist: Skinny Puppy
Title: The Greater Wrong Of The Right - Reissue Remastered
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Ten years after its release, Metropolis decided to reissue and remaster "The Greater Wrong of the Right", the album which sealed the reunion of Canadian band Skinny Puppy on Synthetic Symphony, for the pleasure of all those ones who missed it, but I could guess that such a decision could be justified by the fact that the slight mutation that a plenty of collaborators such as Otto Von Schirach, Omar Torres or Statik injected into the veins of the puppy could be better understood after the release of the acclaimed album "Weapon". The "profanation" by means of the reversal of the typical relationship between a fan and a cult band which resurfaces from the opening song "I'mmortal" ("you take my picture a portrait prize behind my image your father's eyes just looking for something"), the contemporary assumptions of political elite where even dissent or needs belong to a carefully controlled process as if they got deliberately tested in a social laboratory on songs like "Pro-test" or "Neuwerld", the awareness of the overwhelming hypereality as a consequence of similar processes that shows through lyrics ofsongs like "Past Present" or "dOwnsizer" and other topics which punctures the musical wraps of breakbeat, electro-industrial, cyber-punk and freaky IDM, whose spikes cannot curb Skinny Puppy's woofs or growls, sounds tragically actual and in spite of some smudges, the more contaminated moments of the album such as "Use Less", "Empte", "Daddyuwarbash" or "Goneja" reach the highest stylistical peaks of an album are the ones where the transition to current style is more appreciable.
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Artist: Oiseaux-Tempête (@)
Title: Re-Works
Format: 12"
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Oiseaux-Tempête's 2013 debut album weaved through a number of different styles a humourless thread of disenchantment in the face of contemporary European political and economic problems. For angst and despair, po-faced post-rock or stoner rock with titles to match ('Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)', 'Ouroboros'). For wistfulness or otherwise more contemplative moods, airy ambient arrangements and field recordings ('Sophia's Shadow', 'Outro (for the following)'). In-between these, some full-on swelling, droning grit for good measure ('L'île'). For all its sincerity, dramatic prowess and genuine musical strength and appeal, the problem with post-rock is its histrionic wilt, its gesturing seeming overstated after a certain amount of exposure. It has a tendency to sameness that quickly loses appeal, so when it only fringes compositions rather than absorbing them altogether, the results are usually considerably more interesting - 'Sophia's Shadow' and 'L'île' are good examples of this.

With the above in mind, this remix collection from Oiseaux-Tempête's post-rock polemic introduces an electronic edge to most of the pieces. The outcome is a less consistent but, to this listener, rather more gratifying listening experience.
Leopard of Honour's remix of 'Nuage Noir' opens the record. The sparse, predictable slow-core plodder becomes a Burial-esque electro shuffler, with looped motifs, rounded subterranean bass and woodblock strikes lingering beneath the main rhythms. It's very satisfying to hear the song's elements arranged this way and this well. It's worth noting that this is one of the more striking transformations; for the most part, the original pieces are given atmospheric filter treatment, usually with rhythms removed or obscured - or, in the case of the Scanner and Colin Johnco remixes, added. This relatively limited formulation is possibly out of respect to the spirit of the original album, centred as it is around protest and political discontent.
However, not straying too far from the source material has its troubles. Unfortunately, Dag Rosenqvist's reworking of on 'Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)' feels more like a discarded alternate take than a remix, picking a single isosceles crescendo and losing some interesting dynamics as a result. Machinefabriek's reinterpretation of 'Kyrie Eleison', while a total conversion of sorts (rather tempting the term 'post(-processed)-rock'), nonetheless differs too subtly to feel like much more than an original outtake.

Among more appealing contributions, Wixtes' remix of 'Buy Gold (Beat Song)' discards the titular thudding beat, resulting in a grainy cloud of sombre guitar work gusting around sampled speech. Similarly, Saåad crop but engorge 'La Traversée' into a solid dark ambient/drone piece. Scanner introduces as a textural focus a varied, stuttering rhythm range to 'Calling John Carcone' and manages pretty well to retain beneath it the tempestuous post-rock anguish of the original. 'Nuage Noir' also features a second time, with Greek thereminist May Roosevelt at the helm. Besides cropping the length, she leaves the song largely intact, instead adding a rich, effective harmonised theremin accompaniment.

Like most compilations and particularly remix compilations, it's a mixed bag. But it is impressive how earnestly the present personnel endeavour to preserve the themes and tone of their source material. When it works, it does so very well.
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Artist: No.Inc.
Title: Early Reflections
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: No.
Rated: *****
This is just the first half of the first physical release on newborn label by No.Inc., the collaborative project by Atom TM and Modular Object, and is available as a digital download since last May, but it can be an evidence of the sonic grounds or the sonic portions of sky these talented sound-artists willingly explore. The first of the seven parts which opens this cosmic suite could render that sensation of being inside a space shuttle after losing its bearings and cruising over pitch dark vacuum. The occasional meeting with resounding elements such as shimmering cosmic glassophones, a sort of crossbreed between celesta and harpsichord, which appears in the first minutes of the third part and draws stark melodic lines, synth-brass secretions and other vibrations which got wisely agglutinated in the drone-like mantle that gradually blanket listeners, could come from outer or inner space as if they were hallucinogen contrails of some astral body or visions from inner depths during this mesmeric bathing into a sort of Lily's isolation tank. I'll check the second part of this release, "Refraction", which should be more rhythmical, but this impressive suite, which is closer to some isolationist stuff from FAX - some sombre moments of the record let me imagine that this suite could be considered a sort of dirge in memory of the late lamented label boss Pete Namlook whom both artists met and worked with -, could fulfill listener's expectations.
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Artist: The Young Mothers
Title: A Mothers Work Is Never Done
Format: CD
Label: Tektite (@)
Rated: *****
I sometimes have to classify a number of projects that deserves visibility which could be labelled in a different way under the wide and vague "experimental" definition, where the experimental aspect lies on the intelligent crossbreeding of known styles which manage to trascend definitions andand I have to do this unproper labelling for this astonishing brainchild of Norwegian-born (but currently based in Austin, TX) bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, who grouped many brilliant musicians together: Dallas-based vibraphonist and drummer Stefan Gonzalez, son of jazz master Dennis Gonzales; guitarist Jonhaton Horne from the amazing Austin-based band Plutonium Farmers, who got blessed by Steve Albini's knack; saxophonist Jason Jackson, one of the most talented member of Houston's improvised music community and former co-performer with Leroy Jenkins, Pauline Oliveros and William Parker; Chicago-based octopus-like drummer Frank Rosaly; Houston-based trumpeter and rapper Jawwaad Taylor, former collaborator of Jay-Z and MF DOOM, whose wiseful lyrics set the mood on the opening "The Wood", and a plenty of guest musicians such as Bob Hoffnar (pedal steel guitar on "Mole"), Carl Smith (tenor saxophone on "Ruth"), Ralph White (the kalimba player on "Ruth"), Mars Williams (soprano saxophone), Alex Heitlinge (trombone), John Elliot (tuba). Even if some free-jazz and even standard jazz could come to mind - for instance Ronnie Boykins and Sun Ra's "Cosmic Chaos" came to my one -, their style cannot be properly defined under canonical concept of jazz as their crossover embraces elements from hip-hop, psychedelic progressions (it's really astonsihing the one that Flaten tributed to Ingmar Bergman's genius on "Theme from Fanny and Alexander"), black-metal (check the amazing groove of "Wells, The Original" where vocal and guitar abrasions perfectly matches the wrathful saxophone), samba-jazz (some Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground stuff resurfaces from the depths of musical memories while listening the "frisky" movement of "Mole"), West-African musical hooks (particularly on "Ruth", a song which got derived from a traditional Ugandan song) and exotica and abstract branches of jazz, which features the ecstatic improv wandering of "Virgoan Ways". If mother's work is unfortunately never done, the work of these men is so shining that really slips from sun to sun.
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